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The Glory of God

Have you ever asked God to see His glory?

A few weeks ago, a friend preached on the passage about the Transfiguration account in the gospels. Maybe you remember that story. Jesus takes three of His disciples to the mountaintop. Jesus is transfigured, and then Moses and Elijah appear.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Matthew 17:1-3 NIV

Peter, James, and John get to see a revelation of God’s glory – Jesus transfigured – it must have been a fantastic sight!

It’s interesting to note that both Moses and Elijah had experiences with God’s glory.

Elijah: mountaintop cave

Elijah, a mighty prophet of God, a man who had depended on God to defeat the prophets of Baal, was frightened, overwhelmed, depressed. He fled Jezebel’s threat and huddled on a mountainside, ready, willing to die (1Kings 19). An angel ministers to him, and Elijah continues his journey for 40 days and nights. Then he sleeps in a cave. It is there that God meets him – in Elijah’s darkness, literally, figuratively. God calls Elijah out of the dark cave so that He can reveal His power and glory.

In Elijah’s despair, he experiences the glory of God

It is fascinating to me that Elijah had just witnessed the power of God right before he ran — when the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench he had built around the altar to show the people who was indeed “god!” Elijah challenged the people, “If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” Elijah KNEW the power of God, witnessed it, had stood firm on the promises that God was who He said He was. And yet, Elijah experienced the depths of despair, felt all alone, like he was the only one left living for God.

Moses: the tent of meeting

In Exodus 33, we read of an amazing conversation between God and Moses. Moses would take a tent and pitch it outside the camp, calling it the ‘tent of meeting.’ That’s where the scripture tells us that the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. In one of these meetings, we get to listen in on their conversation. The Israelites have angered God by creating the golden calf. And God has said that He wants the Israelites to go on to the Promised Land, but He isn’t going with them for fear that He will destroy them.

Moses will have none of that. Clearly, Moses has an unusual relationship with God. Moses tells God that if His presence isn’t going with them, he doesn’t want God to send them on. Basically, he’s saying we are not moving without God! God relents and says He will go with them on their journey. Listen to His reason – “I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you, and I know you by name.” And that’s when Moses makes this bold request – “Show me your glory!”

In Moses’ dismay, he experiences the glory of God

I don’t want to read too much into the Scripture, but it sounds demanding. And it is not like Moses had not seen God’s glory previously. Moses met God in the burning bush, holy ground. He saw the glory of the Lord in providing quail and manna in the wilderness. He met God on Mt. Sinai. In each of these situations, God had revealed Himself to Moses. But now, it seems Moses is asking for an even more special revelation – a personal revealing of God’s glory.

God tells Moses that there is a place in a rock near where He is. Moses stands in that rocky place, and as God passes by, God moves Moses into the cleft of the rock and covers him with His hand. After God has passed by, God removes His hand, and Moses can see the back of God, His glory as it has passed by. Obviously, God is speaking of Himself in human terms for our sakes, for Moses’ sake. The key is that a partial revelation of God’s glory is all that Moses could experience and survive.

God’s glory in us!

Centuries after Moses and Elijah, Philip, a disciple, asked Jesus to show the Father. Jesus rebuked Philip gently, “Have I been with you all this time and you do not know Me yet? Whoever has seen Me, has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-11) John, in his gospel, writes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

We experienced the glory of God in our salvation! Not only that, but our lives reflect His glory, much like the radiant face of Moses as he descended Mt. Sinai. As we behold and reflect God’s glory, the Spirit is transforming us, forming us in God’s image – one degree of glory to another! (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Our prayer: Show us God’s glory!

Still, it is a beautiful prayer to ask to see God’s glory! He may show us an aspect of His characteristics that we have missed, an area of His work in our lives or our world. We can ask God to show His glory to those we pray for! What an exciting thought that God might show His glory to our family, friends, or neighbors. We can be assured that in answering our prayer, the Spirit will point us to Jesus, who is the exact representation of the glory of God! (Hebrews 1:3)

Here as we wait
Seek your face
Come and make your throne upon our praise
Here in this place
Have your way
The moment that we see you, we are changed
Show us your glory
Show us your glory
In wonder and surrender, we fall down
Show us your glory
Show us your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground

Holy Ground by Passion
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